Is it possible to prevent cataracts, the world’s leading cause of blindness? Thankfully, many Americans have access to surgical treatment which removes cataracts and replaces them with artificial lens implants, but cost and limited availability can prevent some people from undergoing this corrective procedure. Overall, it is best to focus on how to prevent cataracts to reduce future discomfort and protect against traumatic vision loss later in life.
What Are Cataracts?
When the eye’s lens becomes cloudy, it is called a cataract. Eyes transmit images from rays of light that enter the pupil through the lens and focus on the retina. If the lens is unable to fully process the light, the retina will cease functioning, resulting in partial or complete blindness.
Cataracts normally develop slowly over time. Colors may begin to seem dull and images blurry or cloudy. Eventually, the cataract will begin to affect your ability to participate in daily activities like reading, which is when many people decide to visit their eye doctor for a diagnosis.
Who Is at Risk?
Age is the primary risk factor for cataract development. The eye’s lens loses its transparency over time. Other lifestyle and genetic factors play a role as well. Those with diabetes or a family history of cataracts have a higher risk, as do those with general ill health conditions like obesity and high blood pressure. If you have had eye problems in the past, including eye surgery, cataracts may be more likely to develop as well.
How Is the Condition Treated?
Cataract surgery is a common procedure with low to minimal risk, though bleeding and infection may occur after the fact. The surgery is completed in an outpatient office and local anesthesia is administered to the affected area. The eye doctor removes the cataract and replaces the damaged lens with a clear, intraocular artificial lens.
Prevention Strategies: Take Action Now
It is possible to actively prevent cataracts, though no one method has been proven to completely eliminate the risk. First, recognize that the presence of free radicals in the body has a damaging effect at a cellular level. Free radical molecules steal electrons from healthy molecules in a process known as oxidation. The healthy cells in your eyes are damaged by free radicals that enter the body through chemical exposure, unhealthy diets and more.
To start, quit smoking, lower alcohol consumption and lose weight, if necessary. Next, examine your diet. Diets rich in antioxidants have been proven to significantly reduce the onset of health problems, including cataracts. Add fish, fruits, vegetables and whole grains to your diet and reduce or eliminate carbohydrates, sugar and foods with processed chemicals.
For personalized eye care recommendations tailored to you, set up an appointment today with Salt Lake Eye. Remember to visit your eye doctor regularly throughout your life for regular checkups and to make sure you’re doing all you can to prevent cataracts.